The Boston University softball team opened up Patriot League play Saturday and Sunday against their Turnpike rivals, The College of the Holy Cross.
The Terriers (17-15, 3-0 Patriot League) pulled off the three-game weekend sweep against the Crusaders (3-22, 1-5 Patriot League) to take home the Turnpike Trophy against their rivals.
Senior catcher Alex Heinen took home Turnpike Trophy MVP honors after getting six hits, two RBIs and only striking out once.
BU coach Ashley Waters said her team’s difficult pre-season opponents set them up for Patriot League play.
“Preseason is very difficult and very tough, but we do that so when we get back to Patriot League play,” she said, “we find that we’re actually fine-tuning things and trying to figure out what we need to do to be the best team possible.”
Game 1: BU 7, HC 1
Freshman pitcher Emily Gant (4-7) struck out 14 batters in a dominant start, throwing a complete game and only giving up a single run to the Crusaders.
Heinen hit a two-run blast in the third inning, securing BU’s lead for the rest of the game.
Game 2: BU 3, HC 0
The Terriers took the first two games of the series, as they swept the Crusaders in Saturday’s doubleheader.
Sophomore pitcher Ali DuBois (12-6) got the ball in the second game and twirled a gem. DuBois went the distance and shut out the Crusaders, giving up only two hits in the game while striking out seven.
The Terriers struck in the bottom of the first inning as senior infielder Madi Killebrew came home to score on a single by freshman first baseman Nicole Amodio.
Game 3: BU 2, HC 0
Gant took the mound for the Terriers and Crusader pitcher Kelly Nelson (3-8) opposed her for the series finale.
The final game of the series was a pitcher’s duel as Gant took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and Nelson walked a tightrope all game, escaping multiple jams.
The game went into extras knotted at zero, and Holy Cross had a chance in the top of the eighth to take the lead with the bases loaded and one out. Gant fielded a bouncer to force a 1-2-3 double play to escape the jam.
Gant then led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple, but the runner in scoring position was not needed as senior infielder Emily Morrow blasted a walk-off two-run moonshot to right field to clinch the victory for the Terriers.
Gant said her approach to pitching for the second time in the series was to go straight after batters.
“Since they’ve already seen me once, I was just thinking about going back hard after them again with same stuff,” she said. “I know my defense had my back, they did an amazing job behind me.”
Both pitchers made quick work of the first inning, as Gant pitched a 1-2-3 opening frame, and Nelson only gave up a base hit to Heinen.
Gant had a strong start in the second inning, striking out the first batter and then forcing a ground ball and a pop fly to right field. Nelson seemed to be in danger after giving up a leadoff double to senior catcher/infielder Alexa Ponce, but she was able to escape the jam with two pop outs and a strikeout.
The third inning was the same story for Gant, as she sat down her ninth consecutive batter in another quick inning. Nelson was able to escape from another jam in this third, as she gave up a two-out double to Morrow but was able to strike out the next batter.
Gant turned up the heat in the fourth inning as she cut through Holy Cross’ lineup like a knife through butter. She struck out the first two batters she saw in the inning, including a three-pitch strikeout, and then forced a groundout to herself for the final out.
Nelson answered right back with a 1-2-3 inning herself, but it didn’t come without some help from her defense. Crusader left fielder Bella Jankowski made a diving catch just in front of the fence on a deep fly ball to secure the inning’s second out.
Gant gave up her first base runner in the top of the fifth inning when she issued a four-pitch walk to the leadoff hitter. However, that runner was quickly erased when Gant fielded a sacrifice bunt and threw a strike to second base.
Holy Cross picked up their first hit of the day with two outs in the fifth as Crusader first baseman Hannah Horton poked a ball into the gap in left field. Gant escaped the jam with a strikeout of the opposing pitcher.
With two innings left to play, the score was still knotted at 0-0 with BU tallying three hits and Holy Cross one as both pitchers continued to steamroll the opposing lineups.
Leading off the top of the sixth inning, Crusader infielder Alyssa Gutierrez hit a triple into the right field gap just out of range of the diving center fielder. Two batters later, Gutierrez was caught between third and home and picked off by Heinen after a failed bunt squeeze attempt.
The Crusaders began a rally with one out in the seventh after a walk and then a hit to put runners at first and second with two outs, but Gant blew the ball past the final batter to end the threat.
With one out in the seventh, Killebrew hit a double to the fence to set up the winning run. Killebrew was then replaced by a pinch runner, junior pitcher Kali Magane. Sophomore Marina Sylvestri was then hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second.
A passed ball advanced the runners to second and third, putting the winning run 60 feet away. The next two Terriers were sat down strikes to escape the inning.
Gant issued a walk to the leadoff batter in the eighth inning. After a ball went off of Heinen’s helmet because of a missed bunt attempt, the leadoff runner was able to advance to second base.
She then turned a 1-2-3 double play to keep the game tied, and the Terriers proceeded to win in the bottom of the frame on Morrow’s blast.
BU will take on Green Line rival Boston College Wednesday at home before playing a weekend series at Lehigh University beginning Saturday.
Waters emphasized the importance of batting for this upcoming week.
“Offense, offense, offense and offense,” she said. “We are going to continue to swing, I do think the wind played a factor today … we need to be able to reset ourselves and hit ground balls and line drives.”